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The Quiche That Refused To Die Quietly

Yesterday’s post was immensely popular (by this site’s standards, anyway).  Apparently someone liked my project enough to post it in the comments of a post on YHL, and enough people clicked on it — just from reading their comments! — to make a very noticeable difference in how many people read this site.

So thank you, whoever you are — my fairy blog mother — for making me feel like a little DIY goddess for a day, and not just some crazy fool who spent hours cutting out a map.  I don’t plan on opening an Etsy shop any time soon — especially since I gave away the key to the map’s creation — but I will say if anyone is interested in having me make one for you, feel free to contact me directly and we’ll talk:

I’m thinking today’s post might not be so popular.  Unless you like reading about how much of a doofus I am, in which case this might be the most popular post to date.

So, I’m not going to lie.

Last night, I screwed up.

Like screwed up, screwed up.  The kind where I messed up not just once, but several times — one after another, after another — compounding each mistake on top of the last until, at the end, I was left with nothing but one solid, beefed-up super mess and a kitchen that smells like burnt cheese.

I decided to make spinach feta quiche, since I still had one pie crust in the freezer from last time, leftover feta from making these, a bunch of fresh spinach I was using for salads, and half of a large brick of cheddar cheese from who knows what.  Considering the only thing I actually had to purchase to make it was the mushrooms, I figured this was a no-brainer.

Boy, was I wrong.

Apparently you still have to use your brain at least a little, no matter how many times you’ve made something, and no matter how much you insist that it’s simple to make.

For some reason — maybe it was because I used fresh spinach — maybe it was because I used half a red onion and half a white because that’s all I had — maybe it’s because karma hates me — who knows? — but for some reason, I didn’t have nearly enough room in my crust for the egg/milk mixture.  I usually have a little left over, but this time I still had like half the mixture left in the bowl.  So I poked around with a fork, pushing a little mushroom to the side here, prodding a hunk of feta out of the way there, trying to squeeze as much egg and milk in as I possibly could, until the pie crust was filled to the absolute brim.

But still, there was a lot left in the bowl.

Rather than ponder the possible reasons and coming up with a viable solution, I did what any good Domestiphobe does and tried to bake it anyway.  Not without first dribbling a bunch of milk and egg all over the inside of my oven door.

The directions say to bake it for 15 minutes, pull it back out to top it with cheddar cheese, and then bake it again.  It hadn’t set up as it normally does after that amount of time, so when I topped it with the cheese, allll the way to the edge like the cheese lovin’ fool that I am, and then went to stick it back in the oven.

And I almost dropped it.


The bottom of the flimsy pie tin gave out a bit, causing my oven mitted hands to close in towards each other, essentially folding the quiche in half.

No worries, went my thought process.  This can be fixed.

I ignored the fact that the crust had cracked and did my best to pat everything back into place.  I set it — safely, I thought — back into the oven to finish baking.  We’re finally in the clear!

Then, about 20 minutes later, I smelled it.

Burnt cheese.

When I went to investigate, there was a wee bit of steam — smoke? — escaping from the back vent.  That’s odd, thought my dimwitted mind.  Maybe it’s from the egg you dribbled on the door before.

So I opened it.

And then my face was accosted with hot smoke.  I coughed and batted at it with my trusty oven mitts until it finally occurred to me to turn on the microwave vent fan and crack open a window.

If it wasn’t so scary, it would’ve been kind of funny — like something from out of a movie.  I felt like Mrs. Doubtfire, only I don’t have a penis and I didn’t catch my synthetic breasts on fire.

I mean, like that would happen.  My breasts are so not synthetic.

*I feel like it’s important to note that I did catch an oven mitt on fire once.  While babysitting.  I hid the evidence.  Kids, this is why you should never get your oven mitts too close to the coils. Or ask me to babysit. Especially if you value your oven mitts.  And… I don’t know… your children.

When the smoke cleared, I saw the problem.

The cheddar cheese, which I’d so carefully lined all the way to the edge of the crust, had somehow — maybe via melting, genius — crept its way over the crust and was dripping cheesy, delicious waterfalls all over the inside of my oven.

Except they probably weren’t delicious, because they were quickly burning on the sizzling oven floor and sending a slew of nasty smells into my kitchen — my kitchen that, not half an hour before, had been filled with the mouth-watering aroma mushrooms, garlic, and onion sautéed in butter.

The inside of my oven, post Apocalyptic Quiche Meltdown.  Someone call Horatio Cane — there’s been a murder.

It only had 10 minutes left.  I could handle this.

I stuck a large cookie sheet on the rack beneath it to catch the drips, lit a candle to try to help cover the smell, and hoped to get through the rest of it alive.

When I finally took it out, it looked cooked.

It felt cooked.

I let it rest for 15 minutes and then cut into it.

It wasn’t cooked.

Or maybe it was, but it wouldn’t hold together because I hadn’t been able to fit enough of the egg mixture into the pie crust.

We ate it anyway.

You know what?  It still tasted delicious.

At least someone appreciates my catastrophes.

Thinking about it today, after I’ve had my morning coffee and have lit a few more dozen candles in my kitchen, my theory is that this happened because I hadn’t consumed enough wine while making it.  Normally I pour the glass before I start cooking, and then I work my way through the dish and the glass, occasionally swaying to some fitting mood music in the background, and everything is right with the world because this is my wind-down time.  This is relaxation.

But last night I had it all wrong.  I didn’t even pour the glass until I was ready to start sautéing, and I’m pretty sure that just threw everything out of whack.  There was no wine pre-choppage, and so my mushrooms were all cattywompus and uneven, clumps of onion were sticking together because I didn’t cut all the way through, and the garlic was just too minced, if you know what I mean.

I wasn’t putting any heart into it.

So I’m starting to discover that me cooking with no wine is like the Beatles writing music with no marijuana.  It just doesn’t work.

But the key, my friends, is moderation.  I can’t have too much wine, nor could the Beatles have too much pot.  Otherwise, we end up mistaking sugar for salt or creating Octopus’s Garden, each of which would only make you scratch your head for days, trying to figure out what went wrong.

Though I have to admit, I kind of love this song.

Do you have any kitchen disaster stories you’d care to share?

8 Simple Rules for Throwing A Baby Hot Tub Party

Well.  Obviously, I used up what little defensive ammo I had against this cold on Saturday during the baby party.  Cooking for 30+ people is not a simple task, and now I have no energy, no appetite, and, worst of all, no voice.

And me with no voice is like a dog without a wag.  A mime without a beret.  Carrot Top without his… top.

You pickin’ up what I’m dropping?

At least I have a voice here, where I can talk without actually talking, and you can listen while typing up emails, perusing Facebook, or answering important phone calls and I won’t even care.

But if you’re a man, and you happen to be reading this, you might want to set your distractions aside for a second and really pay attention, because I have a tasty tidbit of information you probably didn’t know.  This is top-secret girl stuff that Women’s Leagues across the nation would have me killed for spilling in a public forum.

So the 12 of you (women included) who read this need to keep this morsel of intel on the down-low.

Got it?

Men, you might be surprised — shocked, even — but I’m just going to say it.




Here it comes.


Women don’t like baby showers.


At least, most of us don’t.

I mean, even women who have babies don’t generally like to sit around in a setting of forced mingling with people they don’t know discussing different swaddling methods and breast pump boob deflation while tasting candy bars melted into diapers.

As far as I can tell, baby showers are a torturous tradition handed down through the generations as a result of it being forced on a small group of women 100 years ago when one woman came up with the brilliant plan of throwing a party to acquire more crap for her baby.  (And let’s face it, babies need a lot of crap.)  Then the women who were guilted into attending decided if they had to go through it, then they certainly could reap the benefits when they became pregnant, and so on.

And the candy bars melted in diapers, the blind tasting of baby food, the consumption of only non-alcoholic beverages as a sign of camaraderie to the impregnated woman — all of it conjured, undoubtedly, by some evil troll of a woman as her idea of some hysterical practical joke that, for some reason, stuck.

*Really, no offense intended towards any of you who happen to like these kinds of games.  With people you don’t know.  Completely sober.  But if you do, there might be something wrong with you and you should probably start a club or something so you’re all corralled into one safe place.

So.  Like I mentioned before, I’m fortunate enough to have a preggo friend who didn’t want to inflict these activities on her girlfriends and female co-workers.  She figured, what better way to celebrate her, her husband (because let’s face it — he played a part in this too), and the little bugger they’re bringing into the world than by actually making the party fun?  For real.

So here are my tips for creating a fun baby shower.  Except it’s not a shower — it’s more like a baby pool party, or giant hot tub, or at least a bubble bath with those foam blocks and rubber ducks and stuff:

1)  Invite women and men.  Men play a part in the creation of babies, so it’s only fair that they have get to celebrate their impending arrival as well.

Hint:  Given enough alcohol, you might even be able to get the most anti baby party goers among them to participate — albeit grudgingly — in some of the events.

2)  Serve alcoholic beverages.  This plays a huge role in determining the success of Tip #1.  When people who don’t necessarily know each other are forced to mingle, this really loosens them up.  Plus, they’re more willing to sport silly headgear and participate in any planned activities you might choose to have.

Hint:  Party hosts should only minimally partake in the consumption of alcoholic beverages.  The worst thing you could do, as a friend and a host, is to leave the guest of honor — who, if you remember, is pregnant so she has to be sober — high and dry because you couldn’t keep your mitts out of the booze.  And let’s face it — her husband likely (and understandably) abandoned her long ago to the frosty beverage, somewhere around the time he realized he’s — ohmygod — actually at a baby shower, but the bright side is he now has the excuse of drinking for 3.

3)  Serve non-alcoholic beverages.  People get thirsty at parties, and not everyone likes to drink alcohol.  So even though the concept of serving alcohol at a baby shower is new and exciting, don’t get so bogged down in that fact that you forget to service the sober people.  After all, you will eventually want guests to leave this party, and the sober people are their rides.

Hint:  Even so, buy extra alcoholic beverages.  If your party is anything like mine, the alcoholic stuff goes fast.

4)  Serve plenty of food.  Since people will be drinking, they won’t be able to survive on mixed greens and crustless sandwiches alone.

Bacon Tomato Tartlets.  Recipe HERE.

Mozzarella Caprese Appetizer.  Recipe HERE.



Not pictured:  Sausage cheddar meatballs, cheese fondue, assorted chips and dip.

5)  If you must have a theme, make it low-key.  Where the Wild Things Are has been a favorite book of Alaina’s since she was a kid herself.  Since she and her super talented mother already painted a mural in the nursery reflecting this theme, it served as a natural backdrop for our guest book photos:

It worked well with the invitations:

And worked for the game prizes:

I ended up filling these mugs — $1 each from the Dollar Store — with tissue paper and candy.

But that’s really about as far as we carried the theme.

6)  Keep at least one traditional shower activity.  In this case, we kept the part where the gifts are opened in front of the guests.  At some modern parties, gifts are actually opened as guests arrive, which can cut that hour where everyone has to gather in one room and watch as the pregnant lady lays onesies over her belly and discusses bottle nipple flow.  It also spares the non-mother gift recorder the embarrassment of having to clarify exactly what each item is in front of the entire room of guests.

However, in this case, we opted for the gift event, only at turbo speed.  The whole thing took 15 minutes, tops.  It helped the party planners stay organized by keeping the gifts in one place, it allowed us to announce the upcoming relay race to everyone at once, and it was the one event that focused the attention on the parents-to-be.

Plus, it was fun watching “Dad” trying to figure out what various items were for:

7)  Nix the ridiculous games.  Then replace them with other ridiculous games.

Like a relay:

Race starts by chugging a White Russian from a baby bottle.

Racers then push over-sized “Amurican” babies to the bathing station.

Using a baby bottle, racers must fill a bucket with enough water to float the rubber ducky to a predetermined line.  Please excuse my boobage in this picture, but I was taking my role of line judge very seriously.

Then the baby gets pushed to the changing station.

And finally, on to the swaddling station.

Once swaddled, racers should run with the baby around to the finish line.  Though I feel it’s important to note that you should never run with a real baby.

Let the winners celebrate their victory:

And let the losers be good sports.

(That means you shouldn’t hit people holding babies, and you shouldn’t use babies to hit people.)

8)  Have fun with it.  If you have fun with it, everyone else will, too.  And the ones who don’t, probably shouldn’t get invited to parties anymore.

Thanks for helping, Candice and Rachel, and congratulations, Dirk and Alaina!

Pulled.  It.  Off.

I’m Pretty Sure I Was a Covert CIA Operative in Another Life

My first job with an actual paycheck was quite literally flipping burgers at an A&W Root Beer restaurant attached to a gas station when I was 15 years old.  I came home from my first 8-hour Saturday shift, forearm speckled pink and red from hot grill grease, the clanking sound the frozen burger patties made when I threw them down on the sizzling surface still ringing in my ears, my belly full of fries and my head full of pride because I’d gotten so good at something I’d known nothing about just 8 hours earlier.

It didn’t take me long, however, to learn that once the pride wears off, boredom sets in, and it’s time to move on to something new.  I’d mastered burger assembly, fryer operation, and simultaneously taking orders through the drive through headset while making a root beer float with one hand and counting change with the other.

I’d learned all I cared to know about the fast food industry, and the white-collared jobs of teenage corporate America beckoned with their shiny, manufactured name tags and morning staff meetings and profit charts.

Aside from the employee discount, my favorite part of working at Best Buy were the secret shopping trips I was assigned to take with some fellow employees to report on prices at a competing local company.  I’m pretty sure I wasn’t supposed to tell anyone about that, but hey – this was 12 years ago – there  has to be a statute of limitations or something.  But if no one hears from me for a couple of days after I post this, you might want to contact the authorities.  Unless, of course, they’re in on it.


We’d forgo the pressed blue polos and khaki pants and don our “street clothes,” packing our tiny pens and notebooks and product “shopping” lists so we could record the numbers all stealth-like because I’m sure I looked like your average 16-year-old surround-sound shopper comparing prices and writing down SKU numbers.  We totally blended in.  Except for when we didn’t, and then store management promptly kicked us out.

Then we’d play some video games and eat at Burger King and head back to our store to regale our envious coworkers with our harrowing tale.

I was reminded of this blast from my teenage past yesterday when Don, an employee at the Fresh Market in Southern Pines, caught me taking photos inside the store with my camera phone.

The difference is that this much more technologically savvy time around, my intentions were pure.  I mean, if you were used to only shopping at… say… the Dollar Store and suddenly someone introduced you to the world of Wal-Mart, you’d want to commemorate the occasion, wouldn’t you? And since I recently told you about my frustrations with my nearby Food Lion grocery store, I knew I had to share the Fresh Market experience.

Hence the blurry camera phone pictures.

I mean… I couldn’t very well whip out my DSLR and tell the deli employees to smile.

I had to be sneaky, people.  Corporate espionage is serious business.

Plus, it was just more fun to do it this way.

Justin was off work yesterday, so we decided to head to the upscale Southern Pines area to hit up their Lowe’s (since ours was destroyed by a tornado) and grab a nice lunch.  We also thought we’d stop by this place called Fresh Market, about which our neighbor raves.

All I can say is, how have I lived a mere 45 minutes away from this gem for 4 years and never gone??

We were greeted by a diverse group of freakishly friendly employees.  Seriously.  If I’m not mistaken’, I’d say that they all actually liked their jobs.

The produce was amazing.  It all really did look fresh.  The variety was incredible.  I mean, I don’t actually have a need for baby summer squash, but I might have to find one now.

Because they have it.

Need a potato?  How about a yam?  What color would you like?  Because here they’re not just potatoes, people.  You have options.

Want to grind your own fresh coffee beans?  Be their guest.

And the meat?  Oh, god – the meat.  Remember when I went to Food Lion with the intention of buying brisket and all they had was this lousy tongue? I mean, it was value priced because it was about to expire. And no one likes expired tongue.

Well, the fresh meat selection at Fresh Market did not disappoint.  Gorgeously marbled steaks like the veins in Calacatta tiles, chicken with lovely, yellow fat, and a seafood selection that made me think we’d traveled east – not west – to get to the store.

And, while I didn’t see any tongues on display, I’m fairly certain that, had I asked, the friendly folk behind the counter would’ve gone to the back and produced a nice, gleaming, not-about-to-expire beef tongue just for me.

Unfortunately, Don caught me before I could snap blurry photos of the freshly baked bread, bulk candy and nuts, and superb deli area.  You see, he’d found my Achilles heel.  The wine.  And the quality of my covert ops quickly deteriorated as I was faced with an actual selection.

Don knew my weakness.  And instead of kicking me out of the store, he exploited it to his fullest extent, taking me on a tour through the bottles and valleys and vineyards, explaining the intricacies of the various types and tastes and prices, and imparting on me some actual knowledge that I’ve somehow managed to avoid during my past several years of avid wine consumption.

I’m not going to lie – a little part of me wanted to have Don’s babies.

I’m now fairly convinced that this is the only place around here where I’ll be buying wine from now on.

Except, of course, for emergency situations.

And any other time I want to drink wine without driving all the way to Southern Pines.

And while the prices for some things were definitely higher at Fresh Market, I’m willing to pay a bit more for quality, service, and – you guessed it – the ambiance of a place that smells like freshly brewed coffee and all natural peanut butter over baby vomit and stale cheese.

I’m basically a marketing director’s wet dream.

And tonight, while I sip a new kind of Don-recommended Cabernet from the Columbia Valley in Washington to go with my incredibly tender grilled fillet (a splurge, yes, but sometimes we need these things in our lives), I will somehow find a way to be okay with that.

I’m a Closet Eater of Processed Meats.

Sometimes, you know, when I’m not buying my shrimp from a van or ordering hot dogs at upscale (at least for these parts) restaurants, I like to eat strange food.

And not strange in a “cool” way, but strange in a “but… why?” way.

For example.

I try to eat breakfast every day.  But, since I’m not usually inclined to go all out cooking a big meal for myself, I tend to stick to a bowl of Frosted Mini Wheats or a piece of toast with peanut butter and honey or peanut butter and jelly.

Basically, as long as we have the peanut butter, we’re good.

But every now and then I get the hankering for something a little… different.  Something from my childhood.  And I have to buy it.  This is much to Justin’s chagrin, because that means he has to stare at it in the fridge for the next month.

Friends, meet Braunschweiger.


Braunschweiger.  Or basically, liverwurst.

Don’t ask me to explain it, but I love it.

I mean… it’s spreadable meat that comes in a tube.

There’s just something about it… when it’s spread over a thin layer of butter on toasted wheat bread, and the butter oozes out from under the pasty meat… mmm.

Now, I know what you’re thinking.  You’re thinking, Katie, how can something that looks so bad, taste oh, so good?

What?  You weren’t thinking that?  It’s just me?

Oh well, your loss…

How about you?  Are you a closeted eater of some food most other people would find disgusting?

Do share.

Who knows?  I might just give it a whirl.



I Hail from the Exotic, Far Off Land of Minnesota

Don’t ya know.

You know how I’ve always kind of sort of really wanted to live in a foreign country?  Well sometimes it feels like I already am living in a foreign country.

I moved to “The South” (I think they get mad if you don’t capitalize it) in late 2003, when the man who would eventually become my husband scooped me up in his pickup truck and carted me and my very limited number of material possessions down to Valdosta, Georgia where, over the years, I would become accustomed to such things as people saying, “I’m fixin‘ to go to the store” and drinking “soda” instead of “pop” and iced tea that already has the sugar added.

It’s crazy.

But there are certain things about living here that really irritate the crap out of me.  Although, I’ll admit that it probably has more to do with living far outside of any major metropolitan area than actually living in The South.

Yesterday afternoon I went to the grocery store.  It’s a chain called “Food Lion” (yeah, because that makes sense), and from what I understand without doing some quick Google research, it’s a fairly large chain.  And while it’s nice because it’s only 5 minutes from my house (when most other commodities are 35-45 minutes away), it can sometimes leave something to be desired if you’re looking for… less “southern” ingredients.

I will say they have a pretty decent selection of Hispanic food, considering the population around here, but if I’m looking for Asian, Indian, or ingredients from another type of culture, I’d best look elsewhere.

Case in point:

I headed to the store today with 3 new recipes in mind.  I left missing at least one ingredient from each recipe, not because Food Lion was out, but because Food Lion – or at least this particular Food Lion – doesn’t stock them.

And these weren’t crazy things, people.  I wanted things like orzo, which is just a rice-shaped pasta and not all that uncommon.  I wanted a beef brisket, which is just a certain (albeit slightly more expensive) cut of beef.  And I wanted some damn Panko breadcrumbs, which are Japanese breadcrumbs, “fluffier” than the stuff you normally buy, but again, I thought not all that uncommon.

I mean… It’s not like I was looking for tripe, which they HAD:

Cow stomach, anyone?

Or beef tongue, which they also HAD:

At the value price of $2.08 for the WHOLE tongue, I’m pretty sure you can’t go wrong.

And who needs Panko breadcrumbs when instead, you can get crumbs made specifically for chicken, pork, fish, general seafood, plain crumbs, seasoned crumbs, Italian crumbs, beer batter, medium-hot, spicy, two varieties of hushpuppy batter, and of course, any variety of Shake ‘n Bake you can imagine.

But NO. F*cking. Panko.

And yes.  I realize I’m incredibly fortunate to even have the option of choosing between tripe and tongue (two things that, I’ll admit, I’d probably be in line to try at a renowned restaurant – just not in my own novice kitchen) when there are starving children in the world, but I can’t help it.

The heart wants what it wants.

And my heart wants Panko.

So.  I can get what I need by driving a bit further to my favorite Asian market or another large chain grocery store.  (Which is not Piggly Wiggly, by the way.  Did you know those are real?  We actually have one.  It’s the only grocery store I’ve ever had to go through a metal detector to get inside.  Never.  Again.)

So it’s not like I’m living somewhere devoid of all things different.  But I have to work a little harder to get them, and something in me longs for the ability to step outside my front door and walk down the street to any variety of specialty shop or restaurant and carry everything home in a couple of reusable bags and call me crazy, but I think I would just be happier overall if the ‘burbs weren’t so… suburban.

You know?

How easy is it for you to get your groceries?  I know Bec’s chain grocery store has about 4 parking spots, is “missing” one wall, and she can find a million different dried beans, but a tiny block of cheddar cheese is like $8.  Many of my former co-workers make the effort to buy from local farmers markets and grow their own vegetables and herbs.

So how about you?  Can you walk to your local grocery store?  Do you have to visit 12 different stores before you can find all the ingredients you need?

Am I just a big spoiled brat who should stick her beef tongue where the sun don’t shine?

Hey!  I might be a little Southern, after all.

I Bet My Lunch is Better than Yours

I have a confession to make.

It’s not like this confession or this confession, where my mistakes were embarrassing but innocent, yet they were just that – mistakes.

No, this is something different entirely.

This is something that could be considered a flaw of character.

I know.

I didn’t think I had any of those, either.

Well maybe this isn’t so much a character flaw, as it is a taste flaw.

I can’t believe I’m about to admit this on this blog.  My foodie friends read this blog.

But those of you who know me – like know me, know me – are already aware of this fun little fact.

One of my absolute, all-time, mouth-is-watering-right-now-just-thinking-about it foods is…

A hot dog.

Correction – a good hot dog.

But I’ll eat the bad ones, too.

Justin and I decided to go out to dinner last night because our heater is broken, it’s unseasonably cold, and refusing to conform to what most people would do in our situation, which is call someone to fix it and eat Ramen noodles in an attempt to save as much money as possible for something that could potentially do catastrophic damage to our already-dwindling savings account (more on that later), we decided to pretend that the problem didn’t exist and go try a restaurant we’ve been wanting to try for quite some time.

*This problem is much more difficult to ignore today, while I’m sitting here typing with the very real fear that the tip of my nose is going to freeze off, which, if you’ve seen my schnoz, wouldn’t be the worst thing that could happen to my face aesthetically speaking, but I’m pretty positive it wouldn’t feel all too pleasant.

The restaurant is called The Steele Pig, and is located a mere 25 minutes from our house, which is remarkably close for an actual chef-owned restaurant ’round these parts.  We didn’t even know it existed until a couple of months ago.  It’s incredibly understated, hard to see from the street, minimally decorated, doesn’t have an overabundance of tables, and none of that matters because holy crap, it’s a real restaurant less than an hour away from our house!

Now, I’m not a “foodie blogger.”  Unlike my friends Steven and Matty, I can’t wax poetic about chef credentials and food names I can’t properly announce and why certain reds are better served in a tulip glass because the liquid will hit my not-so-refined palette in just the right place and are you still talking because I’m seriously trying to eat over here.

So I’m not even going to try.

All I can tell you is that while there are some things on the menu that sounded absolutely delicious (crawfish cakes or a fried green tomato BLT, anyone?), I knew my choice had been made for me when our server told us about their $12 hot dog they had on special that night.

That’s right – $12 for a hot dog.

I knew it had to be good.

I waited anxiously with my tasty $5 mojito, and we downed some fried pork wontons that were gone before I could snap a photo.

*All of these photos were taken with my crappy camera phone, by the way.  My apologies.  I tried to be discrete because I know Justin loves being seen with the girl taking pictures of her food.  I only wished I had my giant DSLR to take better photos…

But then – then – came this:

A giant, delicious, 100% beef (I think) dog on an egg bun topped with incredibly tender pulled pork and homemade coleslaw with my choice of either a traditional red barbecue sauce or a North Carolina vinegar-based sauce.

Oh. My. God.

I had to eat this with a fork.

It was also served with homemade applesauce and incredible herb and garlic fries.


In fact, I think I’m going to go devour the other half right now before I go in search of a warm place (maybe a bookstore?) to spend the afternoon.

Let’s hope the heater fixer guy has good – and not expensive – news, shall we?

The Steele Pig on Urbanspoon

You See What I See, and I See Sushi

Last night we had sushi for dinner.

Normally, that would entail the hour-plus drive up to our favorite sushi restaurant in Durham.

Last night, however, it involved me making a trip to a grocery store and an Asian market, and then slaving over a hot stove, rice cooker, and cutting board to create the various appropriate sushi roll accoutrements, after which we could assemble them into lovely (mostly), bite-sized (mostly), tasty (always) morsels.

One of our rolls had spicy sauce…

Sashimi-grade tuna…

Imitation crab…

And cucumber.

Then we rolled it on up…

And cut it into nice, purty pieces.

Okay, so maybe they weren’t too purty.

(The messily-rolled roll pictured above contains avocado, smoked salmon, and… BACON!)

But when you drizzle them with homemade eel sauce (which, much to my disdain, contains no eel parts whatsoever)…

And lovingly sprinkle them with decadent black sesame seeds…

No one really seems to care.

Until it’s time to clean up.

(Photo taken with camera phone.)

Turning Point

It’s about this time of year when my body starts convincing me I need to acquire an extra layer of fat to prevent me from freezing to death, so I’m inevitably compelled to eat lots of this:

White Chili

And plenty of these:


And before long, I find I need to buy larger pairs of these:

Because sometimes this happens.

So yesterday, in a half-assed attempt to prevent nature from taking its course, I made this.

And ate it this morning like this:

Granola with yogurt and raspberries

And while it definitely wasn’t my usual piece toast smeared with perfectly proportioned layers of peanut butter and maple honey, I have to say it wasn’t bad.

Not bad at all.

Mi Taco Es Su Taco

*Please forgive the unforgivably dark/blurry photos in this post and any of my posts hereafter.  By this point in the trip I had busted my favorite low-light camera lens (something I’m not yet ready to talk about) and I was making do with what I had.

On one of our last days in Costa Rica, our friend Becs showed us one hell of a time.  There was a crazy monkey chase (more to come, I promise), pool-crashing at the beach (more to come, I promise), and the most wonderfully orgasmic tacos I’ve ever had the pleasure of devouring.

That’s what I’m going to tell you about now (in case the title of this post led you to think otherwise – again, get your minds out of the gutter).

I can tell you from experience that after a long morning of horsing around with monkeys and a long afternoon of frolicking in both the Pacific ocean and a guest-only hotel pool (a hotel of which we were definitely not guests), there is nothing – I repeat nothing – more satisfying than a tall glass of Costa Rican beer and the best tacos I’ve ever had in my life.

At first I thought Becs was mistaken when she pulled off the main road onto a rocky dirt driveway overgrown with weeds and shrubbery.  Surely the nondescript, unlit home in front of us was not a restaurant.  Was it?

But as we approached, I saw the understated sign next to the front door:


‘Nuff said, apparently.

Tacos in Liberia, Guanacaste, Costa Rica

I’d be lying if the place didn’t make me conjure up thoughts of some crazy old guy in the back butchering up human flesh to serve with tortillas and Lizano al a Sweeny Todd.  (My first “real” date took me to see that play, by the way.  Remind me to tell you about that gem some other time.)

Hey, I have an active imagination.

But the inside was cozy, and I settled down when the owner brought me my cerveza and I saw that at least, if he was going to butcher us and serve us to the other customers (of which there were exactly none), he was at least willing to let us have a drink first.

Imperial with Ice

Yes, that’s a chunk of ice in the glass.  It took us 2 months to get used to it, but non-touristy bars/restaurants in Costa Rica serve their beers with a glass of ice.  It’s actually pretty nice when it’s hot and humid out and the beer bottle isn’t exactly cold.

In a corner of the room there was a large chalk board with the menu (and surprisingly steep prices), along with a gas, flat-topped griddle and a wire shelf hanging from the ceiling.

The first thing we ordered was queso con chorizo, which is exactly what it sounds like – a bowl of delicious melted cheese with bits of chopped up chorizo.  The restaurant’s owner (sorry, forgot his name!), who is originally from Mexico, took several chunks of wonderful white cheese and melted it in an iron bowl over a charcoal grill.

Melting queso on a charcoal grill

We waited as patiently as 3 hungry women who’d been at the beach all afternoon could possibly wait.

Then he threw in the chorizo that he’d cooked on the flat-top, and the result was a greasy, gooey, stringy bowl of deliciousness that really can’t be properly described with words.  We spooned it over grill-warmed tortillas and then we died.

Queso con chorizo

Ask me if I care that this likely turned my arteries into sluggish, gummed-up muck.  ‘Cause I don’t.

Meanwhile, the Taco Guru was working his magic back on the flat-top.  While he’d been making our queso appetizer, he’d put all of the ingredients for our tacos on the hanging wire shelf.  We’d ordered one plate with beef, onions and cheese, and another plate with chorizo, cheese and grilled pineapple.  (Turns out we really didn’t need 2 plates – each plate comes a huge stack of tortillas, and one plate would’ve been more than enough for the 3 of us.)

After the meat was cooked, he piled everything on the plates and brought them to the table.

Beef, onion and cheese tacos

Beef, onions and cheese.

Chorizo, cheese and pineapple tacos

Chorizo, cheese and pineapple.

All I can say is these tacos were ah-maz-ing.

Best Tacos Ever

He served them with shredded cabbage, homemade guacamole and a spicy salsa.

We ate them and died again.

The end.

Erin, Taco Guy, and Katie

Thanks for the laughs, the cries and the jiggly thighs, Taco Guy.  We’ll remember you fondly.

Tasting the Local Flavor

I’ve told you before about how I’ve been craving certain foods from back home, right?

Well it seems I have a problem.

I realized today that when I go home, it’s almost certain that I’m going to crave certain foods from Costa Rica.

You see, every now-and-then Erin and I splurge on a meal at a restaurant.  And after watching some bull riding yesterday (more on that to come), we craved nothing more than a couple of beers and some patacones at one of our favorite restaurants in Bagaces.


Patacones.  (Pat-a-cone-ays.)

Basically, they’re fried plantains.  Plantains are very similar to bananas.

Costa Rica Patacones

No, they’re not served with chocolate.  That black stuff you see is actually frijoles molidos – a type of refried black bean.

Hey – don’t knock ’em ’till you try ’em.

You spread the frijoles molidos over the patacones, and then you top it all with this slightly salty white shredded cheese.

Patacones con frijoles molidos y queso



Oh, and let me take a moment to point this out:

Salsa Lizano is a Costa Rican condiment that is commonly found on restaurant tables and in refrigerators all over the country.  We have a bottle (or two) in ours, and we will likely have several bottles in our backpacks upon our departure.

Anyone know the export rules for Lizano?  Anyone?

And speaking of mmmmm….

Erin and I each ordered fish tacos at the beach on Saturday.

Much to our surprise, they were fried!

Fried Fish Taco

I can’t say this surprise was unpleasant.  Although my arteries would probably disagree.  Especially because they drizzled Costa Rica’s infamous mixture of mayo and ketchup all over the top.  And of course, you can’t forget the cabbage.


Karla just ordered a boring old burger.

Costa Rica Beach Lunch

But even that, paired with an ice-cold local brew, can’t be beat on a hot day at the beach.

Costa Rica Bavaria Dark

Ironically, the one type of food I will probably miss the most is not even technically from Costa Rica.  It’s the ingenious invention of Aaron and Becs, and let me just say…. holy craptastic, batman!

They call them torti burguesas, which basically translates to grilled burgers wrapped in tortillas.

Oh, but that’s not all.

Add to them some cream cheese, crispy bacon, caramelized onions and a slice of cheddar on top, then bake them in the oven, and you have a tailgater’s wet dream.

I really, really wish I had a finished picture of these.  I do.  But I only thought to bring my camera on the day we made torti salchichas, one of my all-time favorite foods (hot dogs) done up torti burguesa-style.

*Warning:  If you’re not a big fan of meat – especially of the hot dog variety – you may want to skip the next couple of photos.

First the boys grilled up a bunch of hot dogs.

Bowl of hot dogs

Then they put the tortis together assembly-line style.  A dab of cream cheese, hot dog pieces, caramelized onion, and a bit of crumbled bacon.  They may have sprinkled a few crunchy Cheetos in there for fun, but we can’t be sure.

crumbled bacon, cheddar cheese, cheetos

Finally, they wrapped ’em up and stuck ’em on a baking sheet with a slice of cheddar cheese on top and popped them in the oven.

And when they came out… wow.

Worth every single one of the 52,876 calories.

Okay, okay – 52,877 calories when dipped in Aaron’s homemade ranch.

But who’s counting?